What Is a Research Analyst? (Plus Skills, Tips and Types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career as a research analyst may provide individuals with a diverse set of skills to use throughout their profession. If you're interested in pursuing this career, knowing what the role entails may help you develop the skills and experience needed for the position. Understanding your abilities and skill level may also help you determine if this position is the right fit for you. In this article, we define what a research analyst is, outline steps on how to become an analyst, list relevant skills, provide salary expectations and give a description of a research analyst's work environment.

What is a research analyst?

A research analyst, or simply an analyst, is a business professional who compiles investigative reports for companies regarding their assets, securities and data files. They conduct research to help companies improve processes, review finances and better understand relevant data. Analysts also typically prepare reports that examine public records, market trends and company or client history to offer helpful buy, sell or hold recommendations. Since research analyst titles vary, consider your interest and the role when reviewing positions. Some roles may include:

  • Securities analyst

  • Investment analyst

  • Rating analyst

  • Equity analyst

If you're analytical, detail-oriented and good at math, you might enjoy a career as a research analyst. However, it's essential to assess the role requirements of the positions you're pursuing to ensure you see if you qualify before applying. Also, if you're interested in a career with high earning potential, getting a position as a research analyst may be a good option for you.

Research analyst job description

Research analysts may perform a variety of functions depending on their area of expertise and their employer. Typically, they're responsible for performing business valuations, making investment decisions and forecasting outlooks for a company regarding their assets. Preparing reports, performing research and collating, organising and analysing both quantitative data might be another one of their job tasks. Research analysts might also research trends, gather intelligence, write briefs and prepare memos for senior staff.

Depending on their employer and job type, analysts may work with the buy-side or sell-side of business. Here's a closer look at the differences for the role:

Buy-side analyst

Buy-side, or brokerage, analysts often work for an investing business or asset management company that manages hedge funds, pension funds or mutual funds. They might work with these businesses to recommend investment securities to money managers. Buy-side analysts also determine how well an investment pair with a fund's investment strategy, its market viability and if there's any risk associated with the investment.

Sell-side analyst

Sell-side analysts typically offer recommendations on whether to buy, sell or wait on an opportunity. They sometimes work with marketing teams to help develop a business's offerings. Sometimes, companies give sell-side analysts' research to clients for free to help gain their business and promote their company. Of the two, sell-side analysts may have a higher earning potential, because of their client list and information provided. However, this can depend on the company and the analysts' experience.

How to become a research analyst

If you're interested in becoming a research analyst, here are some steps you can take:

1. Pursue a bachelor's degree

The degree you choose depends on the type of research analyst you're interested in becoming. Typically, however, business and finance programmes may be the most helpful to provide relevant skills relevant for a career as an analyst. Consider pursuing a degree in subjects like accounting, finance, economics, business, computer science or math. These may help you develop experience and tools for your career.

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2. Research relevant certifications

You might also want to consider getting additional certifications to bolster your resume. Again, the certifications you need depends on the type of analyst position you're pursuing. For example, if you want a career working with an investment bank or securities firm, you might have to take an exam or register with a self-regulatory organisation in order to practise legally.

3. Gain experience in your chosen field

Depending on your career goals, it may be helpful to work as a research assistant or to find entry-level work within your industry of interest. Doing so may help you grow your network, learn valuable skills and improve your resume. Relevant experience may also help increase your earning potential. Consider pursuing work in areas like investment consulting, asset management or transaction advisory services for a financial institution or accounting firm to help qualify you for a position as a research analyst.

4. Update your resume

When you're ready to apply for positions in your chosen field, update your resume to reflect the skills, certifications and experience you have. Consider using the language and keywords job posts list in their job descriptions. This technique may help you make a good impression on potential employers. Try highlighting key areas that qualify you for the role.

Related: How To Write a CV (With Template and Example)

5. Apply for research analyst positions

Consider using your personal network and relevant job boards to search for opportunities that interest you. Look for positions that provide a good culture fit, match your skills and experience and meet your salary requirements. Because the field can be competitive, it's helpful to know people in the industry who can alert you to the opportunities they think suits your experience, skills and level of education best.

What makes a good research analyst?

Companies may look for particular skills they like their candidates to possess when reviewing applicants. Usually, however, good research analysts possess the following skills:

  • Communication skills: Communication skills may help analysts interact with clients, team members and management in a clear and concise way. They may need to present reports, communicate findings to leadership or work with clients to review their current standings or future opportunities.

  • Organisational skills: Organisational skills and strong attention to detail may help research analysts keep track of reports, run models and notice patterns and trends.

  • Computer skills: Some positions might require analysts to use computers to perform light coding functions, prepare reports and perform basic analysis responsibilities. Knowledge of common programming languages can bolster your resume and aid you in your role.

  • Analytical skills: Analytical skills may help analysts perform investment, company or process analysis. Knowledge of spreadsheets and how to use their basic functions may be a bonus as well.

  • Language skills: Many employers prefer candidates to be fluent in both English and Chinese. Being able to speak and work in Mandarin may be a requirement for analysts at some companies.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Research analyst salary

While actual salary expectations may vary based on your specific employer, experience and geographic location, research analysts in Hong Kong can expect to make an average of $338,176 per year. Try researching the company you're interested in working for ahead of time to determine what you can expect for your salary. Pursuing continuing education opportunities and getting additional certifications may also be a great way to increase your earning potential.

Related: How To Provide Your Expected Salary (With Tips and Examples)

Why should you become a research analyst?

There are many reasons to consider becoming a research analyst. To begin, research analysts help provide valuable information to businesses and their clients. As an analyst, you examine and track relevant business information which may help save companies money, assist them in planning for their futures, improve processes and incorporate feedback into their practices. These actions help companies learn and grow, which may improve employee morale, boost productivity and increase profits.

Besides providing services to companies and clients, working as a research analyst may also be an exciting and challenging career. Getting a research analyst position may also offer salaries that are relatively more than in other careers and competitive benefits packages. Schedules are often predictable, and you'll likely work normal business hours and have predictable expectations. If you're highly organised and enjoy working with numbers, the job may be a fun way to look for patterns and trends within large data sets.

Research analyst work environment

Research analysts may work for many types of companies, including assessment management companies, insurance companies, investment banks, brokerages, hedge funds and pension funds. Their work environment may be a traditional office setting or remote, depending on the company. They often work typical workweeks but may have additional weekend or evening expectations depending on their employer and exact job functions. As a professional working with client data and files, they may spend a lot of time on the computer preparing reports, analysing data and building models.

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